Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Well, that about wraps it up for Cambodia

Wait... since when were you in Cambodia?

For about 20 minutes today, enjoying the underhanded administrative holiday of a lifetime to renew my Thailand visa. I passed through immigration, even if I revolved right back out again, so it still counts!

Sightseeing in Cambodia

I can't tell you much about Cambodia, beyond a few naked kids rolling around in the dirt and a casino less than 20 metres from the border, for people who just can't wait to take advantage of the exchange rate. It was less intimidating than other borders I've passed through, but just as depressing.

It was only pointed out to me too late that I could have spent a few weeks actually touring Cambodia, or some other bordering country, before returning to Thailand for the extra 14 days - especially as I had to pay for a Cambodian visa anyway, simply for the privilege of going through immigration and back again!

While this probably speaks more about my daftness or lack of lateral thinking, it also shows just how much I'm loving being in Thailand - like a stubborn kid who refuses to remove his Ninja Turtle facepaint for days after his birthday, even when the faded green powder makes him look ill and gets into his eyes, I didn't want the fun to end just yet.

The running man

The length of time you're permitted to stay in certain countries really isn't proportional to the amount of fun there is to be had there, and the 30-day limit on my Thailand tour was always hanging over my head - whether I was just rellling out or trying to pack in as many islands as I could before I expired.

Luckily, I'm not alone in this plight, and nor am I the only visitor to Thailand who lacked the foresight to arrange an extended stay before I arrived (which could have avoided this dodgy visa run, border-hopping nonsense). That being the case, there seemed to be three options to extend my stay past its 22 March deadline - pay for an extension at the airport, take a return flight out of the country or cross a border by land and come back again.

Why I didn't go for the first option, I'm not sure. Maybe it was the shady nature of the visa run that appealed to me - just one of many borderline illegal businesses operating down hilarious Khaosan Road, alongside the fake Oxford degrees and 'massage' parlours. Whatever the reason, I ended up jumping on a bus to the Cambodian border bright and early on Tuesday morning to get an extra two weeks in this amazing country.

If you want to extend your stay in Thailand too, I can put you in touch with a dodgy geezer who reckons he can add 60 days by border hopping, and will only rip you off at a reasonable rate (I'd already paid for 14 days before I found this out, but I reckon that'll do me).

Each of these 14 days is precious and I have to make them count. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to catch up on two nights' sleep and then spend 12 hours in a bus to Chiang Mai. So that's another day down the toilet then.

At least I can de-stress again and not have to worry about anything until my new visa expires on 5th April. Which is also the end of the tax year. Oh fuck.

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